13 Must-See Black Films Premiering At The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival

A first look at this year's hottest indie films, documentaries and more.

Published April 18th

For the past few years we’ve seen Black creators push the boundaries and break records across genres, from directing the first superhero blockbuster to earn an Oscar nod and earn nearly $1 billion at the box office to Jordan Peele’s horror film US scaring up $70 million during opening weekend at the box office.

Movers and shakers at all levels of the industry are rolling out their latest films, capturing a rich lineup of Black experiences, from the Wu-Tang Clan's rise from the hoods of Staten Island to reggae pioneer Cedric Myton. Here are 13 exciting films premiering at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. If you can’t make it to the festival, don’t worry! Many of these films will be getting a box office release and streaming release.

  1. Devil’s Pie: D’Angelo

    Director: Carine Bijlsma

    Written and directed by Carine Bijlsma and produced by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, this documentary renders an intimate look into the enigma of Michael "D’Angelo" Archer. Disillusioned with his status as a sex symbol and struggling with alcoholism, the two-time Grammy winner disappeared just as he was on the cusp of superstardom.

    Peppered with appearances of close friends, longtime collaborators, performances on the road, interviews and never-before-seen footage, the documentary paints a larger than life image of the elusive singer D’Angeloas he mounts a comeback while confronting his personal demons.

    Premieres April 27.

  2. Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men

    Director: Sacha Jenkins

    From the hard knocks of life at the Park Hill projects in Staten Island to worldwide domination, legendary hip-hop filmmaker Sacha Jenkins shows the Wu-Tang Clan in their own words from the mouth of the preeminent group’s founding members; RZAGZAOl’ Dirty BastardInspectah DeckRaekwonU-GodGhostface KillahMethod ManMasta Killa and Cappadonna. The hour-long film moves between intimate interviews and previously unseen footage (from the members’ personal collections as well as unaired media footage) to bring to life the rags-to-riches come up of the group that changed hip hop forever.

    Premieres April 25 and will drop on Showtime in May.

     

  3. What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali

    Director: Antoine Fuqua

    Executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, award-winning director Antoine Fuqua’s expansive two-part documentary is the first of its kind to delve into the American legend’s profound career and life.

    At nearly three hours long, the documentary pieces together archival footage and never-before-seen material of the heavyweight boxing champion to show Muhammad Ali like we’ve never seen before, capturing the social upheaval the sports figure faced after his controversial name change to the punch heard around the world.

    Premieres on April 24.

     

  4. Goldie
    Photo: Damian Bao

    Director: Sam de Jong

    Instagram influencer-turned-model and Fenty muse Slick Woods stars in this drama as street smart, 18-year-old Goldie trying to hit big by becoming a dancer. Goldie is saddled with taking care of her two younger sisters after her mother ends up in jail, but she doesn’t let that slow her roll.

    Hijinks and double-crossing ensue as the teen bounces from couch to couch while she hustles to achieve her dream of making it as a superstar. With a rag-to-riches story set in Bronx, it’s hard not to draw parallels to notable Bronx native Cardi B.

    Premieres April 25.

     

    This tweet is no longer available. It may have been removed or the privacy settings of the tweet may have changed.
  5. The Apollo

    Director: Roger Ross Williams

    Weaving between archival footage, performances, interviews and behind-the-scenes moments, Emmy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams takes us through the unique history and legacy of  this marquee music hall.

    Before it was internationally renowned, the Harlem institution launched the careers of greats like Diana Ross and The SupremesAretha FranklinSmokey RobinsonMarvin Gaye and many other illustrious acts as an important mainstay of the Chitlin’ Circuit.

    Williams takes us through the rise of the music hall through racially tense times in America’s history; backdropped by the stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel Between the World and Me and appearances from Patti LaBellePharrell Williams and Jamie Foxx. It melds the past with the present as it explores the struggle of Black lives in America.

    Premieres on April 24 and will air on HBO later this year.

     

  6. The Remix: Hip-Hop X Fashion
    (Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage)

     Directors: Lisa Cortes & Farah X

    Hip-hop and fashion go way back, kickstarting multiple fashion trends that have been absorbed into the pop culture zeitgeist since Run DMC rapped about Adidas. But few films have explored why that is or given a platform to the pioneers of urban fashion in the same vein we’ve seen for high fashion greats like Yves Saint Laurent. Enter The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion.

    The documentary takes us back to where it all began: in the streets. Fashion insiders Misa HyltonApril Walker, Dapper Dan and Kerby Jean-Raymond weigh in on the cultural impact and evolution of streetwear.

    Premieres May 2.

     

  7. Burning Cane
    (Photo: Phillip Youmans)

    Director: Phillip Youmans

    Wendell Pierce produces and stars in this Southern drama as a troubled preacher leading an equally troubled congregation. Set amidst the cane fields of rural Louisiana, Burning Cane follows a deeply religious mother struggling to hold onto her faith that becomes marred by a tenuous relationship with her unemployed son.

    Premieres April 25.

     

  8. See You Yesterday
    (Photo: Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

    Executive produced by Spike Lee, this sci-fi short follows Brooklyn teenage science prodigies and best friends, Claudette “C.J.” Walker and Sebastian Thomas, who attempt to undo fate. The duo build a makeshift time machine in their garage to travel back in time and stop C.J.'s brother, Calvin, from being wrongfully killed by a police officer. As we all know, it's hard to change the past – at least without repercussions. 

    Premieres May 3.

     

  9. The Weekend

    Director: Stella Meghie

    Saturday Night Live alumna Sasheer Zamata stars in this romantic comedy as the sharp-witted Zadie. Aptly named after SZAs hit song, Zadie and her ex-boyfriend Bradford go on a weekend getaway at her mother’s bed and breakfast along with her former flame’s new girlfriend, Margo. 

    The trio face a three-day trip filled with jealousy, arguments and tension that becomes further complicated when another guest staying at the bed and breakfast makes himself a part of the squad.

    Premieres May 5.

     

  10. Gully

    Director: Nabil Elderkin

    Written by Marcus Guillory

    Starring Jacob LatimoreTerrence HowardKelvin Harrison Jr. and Robin GivensGullyfollows three best friends trying to make sense of the world in a dystopic Los Angeles. Disaffected by the world around them, drug and partying fuels their days until an unexpected discovery upends their lives and sets them on the road for revenge.

    Premieres April 27.

  11. Inna Da Yard

    Director: Peter Webber

    They’ve sung with the likes of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliffin but outside reggae circles, few know their names. In this film, Ken Boothe, Winston McAnuff, Kiddus I and Cedric Myron — music legends in Jamaica — revisit their staple songs and lay bare the sound and soul of Jamaica in an unplugged album titled “Inna de Yard” ahead of an international tour to share their new sound.

    The film follows their journey, from recording 13 tracks in four days in the backyards of Kingston to the musicians shared memories of their collaborations with Bob Marley and other reggae legends. At the heart of film is a focus on the ongoing relevance of reggae and its social values as to revitalize an older generation while passing on the Soul of Jamaica to younger listeners.

    Premieres April 29.

     

  12. 17 Blocks
    Emmanuel Manny Durant in 17 Blocks

    Director: Davy Rothbart

    Written by Jennifer Tiexiera

    Shot over a 20-year period, this 96-minute documentary follows the Sanford family, who grew up 17 blocks from the White House. Caught on home video camera, the film is a raw look into a family surviving in a city plagued by poverty, addiction and gun violence. Premieres April 27.

     

  13. St. Louis Superman
    (Photo: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival)

    Directors: Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan

    This 25-minute short follows St. Louis rapper and activist Bruce Franks Jr. in the aftermath of his historical win for a seat in Missouri’s mostly white, Republican House of Representatives. Stirred by the death of Michael Brown, the documentary follows Franks during his first year in office.

    Despite its short length, the impactful short covers a lot of ground from the point of view of a local community trying to overcome political obstacles. The majority of the film follows Franks Jr. trying pass a critical bill that could change his community. 

    Premieres April 28.

     

Written by Danielle Ransom

Photo Credit: Tribeca Film Festival